Nicole Sherard-Freeman to Lead Detroit’s Economic Development and Workforce Efforts

Nicole Sherard-Freeman
Nicole Sherard-Freeman // Photo courtesy of City of Detroit Government

Nicole Sherard-Freeman will begin as group executive for Detroit’s Job and Economy Team (JET) beginning Jan. 1. She will be replacing Nick Khouri, who retires at the end of December.

The announcement comes from Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. Sherard-Freeman was hired to help recruit 4,100 Detroit residents for jobs at the new Fiat Chrysler Automobile assembly plant that will begin production in early 2021. In her new role, Sherard-Freeman will not only play a role in staffing major employers in Detroit, but also work to attract employers to the city by advertising the city’s workforce.

“The incredible success of Detroit at Work under Nicole’s leadership has become our most effective selling point from an economic development standpoint,” says Duggan. “Major corporations are looking at Detroit now as a great place to locate based on the strength of our workforce and our ability to produce a list of outstanding job candidates. Bringing workforce and economic development under the same leadership will provide major job creators with a seamless process for locating in Detroit and finding qualified residents to build their workforce.”

Last year, Duggan named Sherard-Freeman executive director of workforce development and Detroit at Work. Previously, Sherard-Freeman served as president and CEO of the Detroit Employment Solutions Corp. (DESC), the city’s workforce development arm since 2017. Under her leadership, DESC was able to provide job readiness and training opportunities to thousands of Detroit residents in fields such as skilled trades, heath care, IT, logistics, hospitality, and more.

Earlier this year, Sherard-Freeman was also tasked with leading the operations for Community Health Corps, a new city initiative that provides direct outreach and case management to many of the city’s lowest income residents. In doing so, she was able to help connect them with the services and support they need to improve their quality of life, health, and economic standing.

“There’s no better time to be intentional about aligning workforce and economic development,” says Sherard-Freeman. “We were making tremendous strides on both fronts before COVID-19. As we enter the next phase of the pandemic’s economic impact, officially leveraging one for the other will be key to measurable, sustainable economic recovery for the city.”

Sherard-Freeman holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has completed graduate studies in organizational management and development at Fielding Graduate University.